This story has been updated with comments from Nick Harrington of the South Dakota GFP.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Hunters harvested 1.58 million pheasants in South Dakota in 2022, according to the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Department.
That’s the most of any state considered a top pheasant hunting state by hunting blogs, websites and organizations.
The state also has one of the longest hunting among several states in the region and those touted for pheasant hunting.
The season starts on Oct. 21 and ends on Jan. 31.
South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota and Montana generally rank as top pheasant or upland bird hunting states.
The daily limit is four in Kansas and the possession limit is 16.
The other states have similar or lower daily limits and possession limits.
The hunting season is similar Nebraska. The season runs from Oct. 28 – Jan. 31. The state has a three-bird daily limit and a possession limit of 12 roosters.
Iowa’s season is Oct. 28 -Jan. 31.
The season runs from Oct. 14 through Nov. 30 and a second season runs from Dec. 1 – Jan. 1 in Minnesota.
The North Dakota season is Oct. 7 -Jan. 7. It’s Oct. 07 – Jan. 01 in Montana.
The season in Kansas is Nov. 11 – Jan. 31.
South Dakota is known for its pheasant hunting and drawing hunters from around the nation.
“The first two weeks when it opens, a lot of folks come,” said Nick Harrington, the GFP communications director.
Now that’s early November, another part of the season starts, Harrington said.
“This time, from early to mid-November is a transition period,” Harrington said.
Crops that are still in the field in October can make hunting more difficult, he said. Now, more crops have been harvested.
“This time of year is when the hunting can really start getting good,” he said.
He knows of South Dakota residents who don’t start hunting until Thanksgiving.
If the state gets a few inches of snow this month, that can really help hunters, Harrington said.
Hunters are limited to how many birds they get harvest each day and posses.
The daily limit in Iowa is three birds and 12 in possession.
The daily limit in Minnesota is two birds until Nov. 30 and three from Dec. 1 – Jan. 1. The possession limit is six roosters from Oct. 14 – Nov. 30 and nine roosters from Dec. 1 – Jan. 1.
The daily limit in North Dakota is three roosters and the possession limit is 12.
Montana’s daily limit is three and the possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.
A longer season can increase the chances of higher numbers of harvested pheasants.
Harrington advises out-of state hunters to split the 10-day season permit into five days at the start of the season and five days at season’s end. The days can always be moved up but never back, so the end of the season works well because the dates can be changed to earlier.
If the weather and conditions are good around Christmas, they can plan a hunt then, Harrington said of an example.
Hunting later in the season can also be a chance to combine hunting with ice fishing, Harrington said.
It also helps to start the season with a high bird count. South Dakota doesn’t do an official bird count survey but it does release an outlook.
The state Game Fish and Parks Department (GFP) described the season outlook as “Conditions are excellent in western, central, and northeast South Dakota.”
In Iowa, the pheasant survey statewide had a 15% increase in bird counts, and it was even higher in northwestern Iowa.
Some areas of Montana were expected to have better than average pheasant numbers while others would be at or below average for this season, according to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Pheasant numbers were expected to be better in the eastern side of Kansas, according to Pheasants Forever.
In mid-August, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department said “The number of roosters heard calling was up anywhere from 10-38% throughout the state’s good pheasant range, which reinforces Department results from last summer’s roadside brood counts that showed improved production of all upland birds.”
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said on Sept. 5, “Statewide, pheasants averaged a 10% increase from 2022 and 26% above the 10-year average. This year’s statewide pheasant index was 53 birds per 100 miles of roads driven, compared to 48 in 2022.”
The 2022 harvest in Minnesota was 204,000 roosters, according to the MN DNR.
Hunters harvested 286,970 roosters in 2022 in North Dakota.
An online hunting forum estimated the harvest at around 200,000 in 2022 in Nebraska.
If hunters have success in other states, it helps all states, Harrington said. One of the goals is to recruit hunters and retain them, so successful hunts are important, he said.
For example, if a hunter has good luck in northwestern Iowa, it can encourage them to hunt in South Dakota, Harrington said.